The Vympel R-73 (NATO name AA-11 Archer) developed by Vympel machine
Building Design Bureau, is the most modern Russian short-range
was developed to replace the earlier R-60 (AA-8 'Aphid') weapon for
short-range use by Soviet fighter aircraft. Work began in 1973, and
the first missiles entered service in 1985.
The R-73 is an infrared-guided (heat-seeking) missile with a
sensitive, cryogenic cooled seeker with a substantial "off-boresight"
capability: the seeker can "see" targets up to 60° off the missile's
centerline. It can be targeted by a helmet-mounted sight
allowing pilots to designate targets by looking at them. Minimum
engagement range is about 300 meters, with maximum aerodynamic range
of nearly 30 km (18.75 mi) at altitude.
The R-73 is a highly manoeuvrable missile that in most respects is
believed to be superior to the United States AIM-9M Sidewinder, a fact
demonstrated by the reunified German Luftwaffe winning all dogfight
engagements with their MiG-29/R-73 combine against the F-16/AIM-9M
combination fielded by the USAF, prompting the development of
Sidewinder and other SRM successors like AIM-132 ASRAAM, IRIS-T, MICA
IR, Python IV and the latest Sidewinder variant, AIM-9X, that entered
squadron service in 2003.
From 1994 the R-73 has been upgraded in production to R-74EM standard
(originally R-73M), which entered CIS service in 1997. The R-74EM has
greater range and a wider seeker angle (to 60° off-boresight), as well
as improved IRCCM (InfraRed Counter-Counter Measures).
The weapon is used by the MiG-29, Su-27, Su-32 and Su-35, and can be
carried by newer versions of the MiG-21, MiG-23, Sukhoi Su-24, and
Su-25 aircraft. India is looking to use the missile on the Light
Combat Aircraft. It can also be carried by Russian attack helicopters,
including the Mil Mi-24, Mil Mi-28, and Kamov Ka-50.
7.4kg expanding rod
Max speed Mach 2.5, range